Friday, December 19, 2008

Johnson Talks KO Victory Over Burns

Originally posted on

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson had a score to settle when he walked into the Octagon against Kevin Burns at the season 8 finale of “The Ultimate Fighter.” The two had gone toe to toe at Ultimate Fight Night 14, and Burns, widely considered to be a ground specialist, was giving Johnson all he could handle on the feet.

Unfortunately, part of Burns’ attack included several inadvertent eye pokes that Johnson tried unsuccessfully to call attention to. The fight had almost concluded when Burns threw something of a jab, his fingers outstretched, and put his finger into the back of Johnson’s right eye.

Johnson dropped to the floor immediately, crying out in pain. However, because referee Steve Mazzagatti had not seen the eye poke, the fight was ruled in Burns’ favor. Johnson later underwent surgery to correct damage to his right eye.

Johnson got his revenge last Saturday, aided in no small part by a new trainer, Cung Le. Le, working hard on a blossoming film career, trained the Los Angeles-based welterweight in preparation for the second Burns fight.

“It’s great,” Johnson told FCF after the fight. “I’ve been working on my kicks so much and different techniques that something’s gotta work.”

Le’s influence was present in Johnson’s work, with Johnson going headhunting at every opportunity. Burns’ stand-up was greatly improved, and no fingers got in the way of the fight’s course. But in the third, a small mistake cost him the fight. In the open, Burns lead with a left hook and Johnson retorted with a left kick to the head. The shot put Burns out before he hit the canvas.

The bad blood was over, but Johnson paid his opponent all due respect.

“The fight was cool,” he said. “We both landed some crisp jabs and punches, and he’s tough. I don’t take anything away from him. He’s tough. I hit him a couple of times and I was just like, damn, this boy just won’t go down. But I give him all the props in the world.”

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